Thursday, April 15, 2010

iLesson: Wachunga! Shark Teeth

I make no excuse for the fact that I am tres fond of some movies that other people consider stinkers. Ghostrider? Own the DVD. Independence Day? Can quote it chapter and verse.

One particularly cheesetastic gem brings us our brief iLesson today. (Which did not come from iHop, as I had half a thyroidectomy yesterday to remove the alien embryo growing therein. In fact, as I write this, it's not yet 'yesterday' at all, but Tuesday, which I suspect may cause a rift in the time/space continuum, as I just referred to a past event that hasn't happened yet.)

Where was I? Oh. Yes. Deep Blue Sea. Ridiculous genetically engineered shark, disaster on an underwater laboratory ridiculousness. Nothing obeys the laws of physics. But this scene is... well, it's golden.



This starts as the "rally the troops" speech. All the cliches are there. The stirring swell of music. The tracking close ups. Samuel L. Jackson, for crying out loud. And then...

WaCHUNGa! Shark teeth.

Here's the lesson. Cliches exist for a reason. They serve a certain dramatic purpose. I call this the Braveheart speech, because it seems that every movie has a commander essentially says "We're all going to die but it's going to be awesome." But really, this trope dates back all the way back to Shakespeare's Henry V, and "Once more into the breech, dear friends... or clog the wall up with our English dead." And then he tops it later with "We happy few, we band of brothers."

But where they work BEST is when you take the conventional, expected moment, and then explode it. Give it an unexpected twist. Combine it with something else. Freshen it up with new elements.

I am not sure Renny Harlin meant this to be humorous. But it is, in a darkly funny way. This scene works, and frankly, if the whole movie had been more like this, and less earnestly serious, more people would join me in enjoying this movie for what it is: ridiculous fun watching dumb humans against genius sharks.

So, enjoy the weekend, and don't forget about the Mosquitos Suck Contest. See y'all when I'm coherent again.

2 comments:

  1. I am 100% with you on the loving the cheesy disaster movies that everyone else claims that they hate (we both know they secretly love them too)...I cry every time I watch Armageddon and Twister is one of my all time favs (classic!) but of all the cheesy disaster movies that particular scene from Deep Blue Sea is the best. I think I rewound it at least 5 times the first time I saw it, "We Will Survive!!" CHOMP!! Like I told my friend last night (who has never seen any of the movies I mentioned in the comment) it's time for a cheesy disaster movie marathon.

    p.s. your lesson did not blow over my head, I always enjoy seeing Shakespearean motifs appear in modern films. He is truly the master. Almost every story or theme that is done today has appeared in one of his plays, people seem to forget that.

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  2. You could almost see that one coming, since he's giving the stirring speech right in front of the exit where the shark could get in. I'm a fan of dark comedy of this kind. I think my favorite moment in Meet Joe Black is the one where Brad Pitt's character (pre-possession) is hit by a buss.

    According to SCA lore, when Selina Rosen (the author) was in the society, she once inspired an outnumbered group of fighters with one of those "we band of buggered" speeches that went: "Boys, We're going to die! But we get to hurt a lot of people before we do!"

    Maybe things like this grow in the telling.

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